Australian wine producer Petaluma has entered Lion Nathan's pride. With the acquisition of more than 90 percent of the shares in publicly owned Petaluma, the brewing company has finally achieved its goal of tapping into the wine market
"We had 93 percent last time I looked," said Warwick Bryan, director of investor relations for Lion Nathan, which owns breweries in Australia, China and New Zealand.
On Oct. 22, Lion Nathan had upped its original Oct. 2 offer for Petaluma from A$7 per share to A$7.27 (US$3.64), making the Australian producer worth around A$229 million (close to US$115 million).
The move fueled speculation that other companies were looking at acquiring a stake Petaluma, which owns Australian wineries such as Petaluma, Mitchelton, Knappstein and Stonier's, as well as Argyle winery in Oregon.
However, Petaluma CEO and founder Brian Croser, as well as the company's board of directors, endorsed the Lion Nathan offer, and by Oct. 24, Lion Nathan declared that it had received agreements for 50.7 percent of the company.
Despite Croser's public endorsement, recent reports have hinted that Petaluma's founder may be unhappy about working under Lion Nathan. The company acknowledged the reports, saying that Croser may be looking at other options.
"We are in discussions with Brian Croser at present," said Bryan. "We are keen that he remain with Petaluma."
Lion Nathan is expected to purchase the remaining Petaluma stock in the coming weeks.
The Australian beer giant has recently shown great interest in the wine industry. Its first attempt, however, to buy into the business was thwarted when London-based Allied Domecq won a bidding war for New Zealand's Montana Wines in late August.
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